Minnesota United sporting director Manny Lagos spent the past two days digging, an effort unrelated to weekend snowfall.
The list of players left unprotected by their Major League Soccer clubs — players eligible for selection in Tuesday’s expansion draft — reached Lagos at 5 p.m. Sunday. The draft, which will be streamed live at mlssoccer.com beginning at 1 p.m. Tuesday, is expected to bring five players to the Loons’ still-sparse roster of three defenders.
Atlanta, making its MLS debut with Minnesota in the fast-approaching 2017 season, picks first and United goes second. The teams alternate picks from there for five rounds.
Though less than 48 hours separated the player list and the draft, Lagos wasn’t feeling rushed.
“For the past eight months we’ve created player profiles for every player in the league, and also a predictive analysis of who would be in the expansion draft,” Lagos said.
Lagos said he felt “fairly pleased” with the depth of solid central midfielders and wide forwards on the list. Players at those positions would help flesh out the eventual 28-man roster, though Lagos did not rule out trading a pick for a player.
The team announced Sunday that it had acquired Colorado defender Joseph Greenspan by trading its third-round pick in the league’s SuperDraft of college players Jan. 13.
Minnesota connections on the unprotected list include:
Defender Damion Lowe, who started 25 games with Minnesota United last season while on loan from Seattle. He was one of 14 players up for the 2016 North American Soccer League Young Player of the Year Award.
Montreal Impact midfielder Calum Mallace, who was born in Scotland but lists Mendota Heights as his hometown. Mallace was loaned to Minnesota for the 2013 fall season and was named twice to the NASL team of the week.
Senior editor and soccer analyst Matthew Doyle posted on mlssoccer.com five players Atlanta and Minnesota should consider “good-to-great value at spots that really matter.” His list for the Loons included Montreal midfielder Harry Shipp, a finalist for MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014; Colorado defender Jared Watts, who played with Greenspan; and Toronto goalkeeper Clint Irwin, who helped his team reach the MLS Cup.
According to draft rules, each of the league’s 20 teams can lose at most one player.
“We’ve got guys we’re interested in and now we’ll look more closely at their contracts, character and leadership,” Lagos said.